Protesters on Wednesday disrupted a press conference of CPI leader Manish Kunjam, who is one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court that led to the CBI chargesheet holding police responsible for arson in Tadmetla, and whose effigy was burnt by auxiliary constables four days ago. Around 25 people barged in during the conference at the CPI office in Jagdalpur. They shouted slogans asking Kunjam to leave Bastar, and broke furniture.
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A leader present at the press conference said, “The protesters barged into the office and demanded that Kunjam apologise for a WhatsApp post he had sent on goddess Durga. Kunjam said the matter had been closed, and that he did not intend to insult the goddess.
But the protesters seemed bent on stalling the press conference, which was on the effigy-burning, and in which Kunjam was speaking against police atrocities. They began damaging furniture in the room. Kunjam was not personally attacked, but only after much damage was done did the police usher them out of the room. Many of the protesters were from AGNI (a pro-police group formed after the disbanding of Samajik Ekta Manch).”
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Kunjam had cases filed against him in the past few weeks for allegedly objectionable posts on social media, which question the narrative of Durga and Mahisasur. This led to groups in Bastar taking sides for or against Kunjam, with the senior police leadership being present at meetings that castigated Kunjam for his views.